Helen Chesnut’s Garden Notes: Gratitude abounds among the gardeners

Perhaps it was the challenges of this year’s growing season that made me so acutely conscious of and thankful for the garden’s gifts and the many pleasures they bring.

Almost every late afternoon in the summer, it was with supreme satisfaction that I picked a few cherry and Roma tomatoes from the pots on the patio, along with snippets of basil, to enhance the evening meal. And what a treat it is to plan meals around what is ready to pick in the garden.

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Working in the garden, I stopped often to take in the gentle whirring sounds of hummingbird wings and the soft buzzing of bees. And I lingered long, finding things to do, in areas filled with the sweet, pervasive scent of honeysuckle and sweet peas.

Readers’ letters streamed in, reflecting current gardening issues. As usual, almost all of them propelled me into research mode as I refreshed my memory on the topic raised or uncovered information on an unfamiliar plant or problem. In the process I often thought of my father, who wrote this column before me, expressing his central satisfaction in the work: Learning something new, every day.

Thanks to everyone who wrote to express gratitude for various aspects of gardening.

Assistance. Bruce wrote: “We are very thankful for the help we get in our garden. We are in our 80s and our daughter and husband come to help when we can’t cope. We are blessed to have their love. We have enjoyed a good harvest and the freezer is full.”

Gift plant. From Brian, who found fascination and delight in one small plant: “This spring, my wife received a tiny tomato plant from a friend who had grown it from seed. After a long period of nothing much happening, blossoms appeared. Shortly after, tiny green cherry tomatoes materialized.

“The blossoms, and more tomatoes, kept coming. Every week or so, I took a tomato tally, Final tally: 132 tomatoes. I felt so thankful for the surprising bounty from one small plant. This summer and fall, our salads have been especially delicious, topped with our home-grown tomatoes.”

Back to the garden. Joan wrote: “I’m grateful that, after breaking a hip and a hand in a cycling accident, I once again have been able to pull on my gardening boots, haul out the ladder, and attend to the shrubs and trees. The garden has always been my sanctuary and now with the spectre of climate change devastation all around, I consider my little garden to be a precious patch of life that needs my nurturing now more than ever.”

Flowers. From Elaine: “Marigolds, giant ones, with enormous, brilliant blooms. Though I can hardly recall planting them in my allotment garden, they have risen to mingle with my tomatoes, squash and beans. What a lovely sight they are, one that has filled me with gratitude.”

Only the lonely. From Lisa: “I’d been doing a seed search for Nicotiana sylvestris, a very tall variety that is often called “Only the Lonely.” No luck. Then, in May, I was surprised to find a seedling growing in a planter. A stray seed had probably found its way from a previous planting. It grew into an amazing, tall plant, undeterred by heat waves or roaming deer. It produced a tower of white, beautifully fragrant, fluted flowers. I’ve saved and will be sharing seeds. That is what Thanksgiving is about, being grateful and also sharing.”

Gardening neighbours. Margy wrote: “Starting last summer, a friend with a talent for making connections among people brought a few of us in the neighbourhood together for regular tours of each other’s gardens, followed by tea and snacks outside. We’ve shared stories, plants, and advice over the last 18 months. I’m grateful for friendships formed, for good conversations, and learning about more lovely plants.”

There are more. I’ll fit them into a future column. Meanwhile, a Happy Thanksgiving to all. I’m already grateful for a week’s rest period coming up. I’ll be back on the 16th.

An Abkhazi Thanksgiving. On Thanksgiving Monday, Abkhazi Garden, 1964 Fairfield Rd. in Victoria, will be open from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. for an autumn stroll and for the Abkhazi Garden Art Show in the Teahouse. This will also be the last day of the garden’s plant sales. The Teahouse will be closed for tea service.


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